Seattle’s newest farm to table operation, complete with a 22-acre vegetable farm in Duvall, wasn’t started by chefs in Capitol Hill. It wasn’t built by a farming collective in Ballard or a community co-op in Fremont. G.R.E.A.N. House Coffee & Cafe was started in the Central District by Reverend Robert Jeffrey Sr. and the New Hope Gospel Mission. Why? Because as the Reverend put it, “food is literally killing people.”
After health complications put Reverend Jeffrey in the hospital in 2007, he decided to create a solution in his own neighborhood. “Growing up in a family of sixteen children, we were very poor. I developed a kinship with those struggling with poverty early on, I guess I never lost that feeling,” said Jeffrey in a Clean Greens video. “People can use their collective strength to do something about their economic situation and one of those vehicles ultimately became food.” Their mission is about more than just a farmer’s market and restaurant. Its designed to help inspire and uplift an entire community.
Growing everything from beets, carrots and squash, to pumpkins, radishes and a bouquet of different greens, the program is giving the neighborhood new access and appreciation for local, sustainable food. The farm bringing’s a new generation of community members to the land every week. While volunteers get their hands dirty they’re learning about crops, soil and have a richer understanding of where their food comes from. But more than that, they are building a stronger community through a CSA program, local food donations to vulnerable neighbors, and offer lower prices that working families can afford. New Hope and Clean Greens Farm are quietly shifting the Central District from a food desert, to a model for strong healthy communities.
Supporting two markets and a CSA program, the organization is also working towards becoming financially self sustaining. Previously working solely from grants, donations and volunteers, New Hope opened up G.R.E.A.N. in February. The Reverend hopes the cafe will soon provide enough money to move the entire farm off of donations.
The cafe has a hometown feel, like a neighbor inviting you over for lunch. Solar retrofitted roof and all, this operation is a standard bearer on how to use healthy sustainable agriculture to empower communities.
The group’s former CSA director Roger Jeffrey put it best in a Clean Greens Farm video; “we have to get back to real community, and I think the key to that is finding common ground, the way we do that is through food.”